|Cold and windy Samish Bay|
Last night I had a strange dream. I was in a familiar place which had gone through renovations since I last visited. Although I knew where everything was, it was slightly out of place from what I felt was normal. I kept trying to deal with it, and there was a man who took delight in tormenting me and trying to make me feel bad about my discomfiture. This morning I can still feel the uncomfortable feelings he raised in me. I remember in the dream having to make a decision about how to respond to him: to treat him the same way, fight back, or stand up for myself in some other way.
Although it was only a dream, it stays with me this morning. Partly I think it's because the way I decided to respond was to calmly ask my spirit guide to help me; in other words, I turned the predicament over to my higher self. And even though this morning I cannot remember what I said to him, I remember my feeling of serenity and a look that appeared in his eyes, almost of fear. What he had tried to do didn't work, and he didn't know how to act in response.
What this dream reminds me is that fighting conflict with more conflict is counterproductive in my life. It's always been that way, even though my initial response to someone trying to harm me is to retaliate in kind. But that is not the only way, as many of our sages have told us through millennia. And meekly turning one's belly to the sky like dogs do, as a way to placate a stronger foe, is not the way either.
I know how easy it is to fall into the trap of feeling bad about myself when someone makes fun of me, what happens when I feel ridiculed. When I was young, moving from place to place with my parents, I learned some coping mechanisms for being the "new girl" for much of my early life. It was easy to be enigmatic and mysterious when nobody knew who I was. But eventually there would be some bully who would try to make me lose my composure, and it almost always worked. I would make an effort to placate him or her, and that never turned out well. As an extrovert, I would usually make new friends and avoid the bully, but inside I always believed that I had been found out as being somehow defective.
As I grew older, I began to realize that the people that I surrounded myself with made more difference than anything else I could do. Knowing that I would never be one of the cool kids and hanging out with people more like me made all the difference. It also helped that we never stayed anywhere more than a few years, and I would have the chance to make new friends again. But always underlying my interaction with my peers was a vague sense that I had to hide my true self in order to fit in with them.
What is my true self? What is that part of myself that I call my Higher Self? Who is that spirit guide I call on in times of need? I'm not really sure I can put it into words, but I know it is there. When I have been at my lowest and most distraught, there is a presence that makes itself known to me, and I realize that I've learned to access it through calling that presence my spirit guide. The hardest part, for me, is realizing that I am not really in control, that I go astray when I think I myself, my ego, can figure out how to carry on. Surrounding myself with good counsel, whether external or internal, is how I've learned to cope with difficulty.
Being uncomfortable and in conflict with others, or our environment, is part of life. How one learns to cope with it makes us each unique and valuable. The main thing I've learned is that nothing stays the same, nothing and nobody is permanent in this world. Everything changes. Maybe that's one of the blessings of growing older: one's trajectory of life contains both magnificence and despair, and all those peaks and valleys begin to even out as the years pass.
Yesterday when I was coldest, with my fingers like blocks of ice, I knew that if I kept going, I would soon feel differently. And it was true; I've learned that nothing stays the same. When I was up there in the icy wind, I felt its incredible power and knew that if I had stayed there, it would take my life from me. But I didn't stay and moved back into the trees where we were sheltered from the wind. We kept on going until we were warm again. And I was not alone.
The sun is still not up, but my tea is gone, and my partner still sleeps next to me (that's for you, Friko). The day is filled with promise and the wind has died down. It will be sunny and cold here for the next few days, and I'll enjoy them to the fullest, no matter what they bring. I hope that you will do the same, and remember, you're not alone, either. Be well until we meet again next week.